Surfer Discovers Why Touching a Whale is a Bad Idea

A New Zealand surfer discovered first-hand this week that while large whales might appear docile, they do not always appreciate being touched, quoted from Grind TV.

Southern right whale swats at Sam Todd seconds after being touched. Photo (enhanced to bring the surfer into view): Courtesy of James Gunn, via Otago Daily Times

Sam Todd, one of two surfers who paddled out for a close look at southern right whales off the Dunedin coast, had to duck for cover when the whale slashed with its fluke after he placed both hands on the cetacean.

Todd and his companion, Craig Latta, also were criticized by the Department of Conservation for violating whale-watching guidelines, which state that boaters and paddlers must try to stay at least 50 meters from whales.

Drone footage posted by News Hubb New Zealand shows Todd off his surfboard, reaching out to touch the 30-foot whale with both hands near its tail or fluke section. The whale’s reaction was sort of like that of a horse using its tail to swat at a pesky fly.

“My impression is they took a big risk, probably unknowingly, by approaching the whale and getting that close to the whale and actually touching it. When it flicked its tail it looked awfully close to the person,” Mr Agnew says.

Todd told the Otago Daily Times that it was a “once in a lifetime experience,’ and added: “Not many people in the world get a chance to have an experience like this one, and for it to happen in old Dunedin, it’s pretty special.”

Todd said that at no time did he fear for his safety, despite feeling the whale tense up a moment before its tail slash. (Had the whale struck Todd with its massive fluke, it could easily have been a fatal blow.)

Read full article and video, here

Source: / Author: Pete Thomas


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